National track magazine honors Williams of Towson Catholic

Freshman runner named top female high schooler

April 03, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Of all the things on Devon Williams' mind - school, track practice, family - track and field awards are the last things that concern her.

That's why the Towson Catholic freshman was almost nonchalant when Track & Field News named her the High School Women's Athlete of the Year for Indoor Track.

"I never thought about it," Williams said. "I just wanted to have fun. I didn't think I'd be Track & Field News' Athlete of the Year."

Track & Field News, which bills itself as "The Bible of the Sport," announced Williams' selection in its April issue.

Although the California publication does not keep records of the last freshman to win the award, Track & Field News associate editor Jon Hendershott called Williams a "remarkable talent."

"It is a tremendous rarity for a first-year high school student - man or woman - to make a national impact," Hendershott said. "You don't get an athlete of that ability and maturity to come along very often."

Williams blazed her way to the record books in several events this past winter. Not only did Williams set a national record by winning the 500-meter race at the Virginia Tech Invitational in January in 1 minute, 11.53 seconds, but she also defeated previous record holder Natasha Hastings.

Williams established national freshman records in the 600 (1:30.22 at the Metropolitan Athletics Congress High School Classic in January), the 800 (2:06.48 at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in March) and the 1,000 (2:52.84 at Virginia Tech).

Her time of 4:50.76 in the 1,600 at the Metropolitan Athletics Congress High School Classic is the nation's third best this year.

"One of the biggest things was her range of talent, her range of times, the range of competition," Hendershott said, noting that three others set national records this winter. "There certainly were a number of women worthy of the award, but Devon's versatility played a big role in it."

Williams might have done more, but she sat out five weeks - including the Millrose Games - because of nagging soreness behind her right knee.

She will compete in the mile at the Penn Relays on April 24, and said her primary goal is to run in June's U.S. Junior National Championships in Buffalo and qualify for the World Junior Championships in Italy in July.

The qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships are 2:08 in the 800 and 4:25 in the 1,600, said Hendershott.

For all of the accolades and lofty goals, however, Towson Catholic coach Dion Hylton said Williams is as humble as ever.

"She's very down to earth," he said. "Some kids would take what she's done and get a big head. ... Her work ethic has not slowed down."

For her part, Williams said she isn't worried about meeting others' expectations this spring.

"I don't feel any pressure at all," she said. "I'm going to go out and train just as hard as I've always done."

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